A COLLEGE EDUCATION ISN’T PRICELESS By Brianna McGurran
College-bound high school seniors of America: You are about to embark on one of the most formative periods of your life, full of new friendships, personal growth and over-caffeinated conversations on the nature of humanity.
Keep “ruinous student debt” off the list.
At this point, while you’re working on applications and deciding which schools most excite you, you may be hearing that college debt is “good debt.” That an education is priceless, and if you’re going to borrow money for anything, it should be to expand your mind and career options.
That’s only partially true.
It’s OK to borrow some money for school. But a college education does come with a cost — one that becomes very real after graduation if student loan payments affect where you live and work, and how much you can save for the future. Years from now, college should live as a memory of late-night library runs and lightbulb moments in class, not as a financial decision you regret. Here’s how to make that happen. Estimate your college costs The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, opens on October 1, 2020, for the 2021-22 school year. The form gives you access to free federal aid such as Pell Grants, plus low-interest federal student loans. Fill it out as soon as possible if you haven’t already; some aid, such as federal work-study, is first come, first served. The FAFSA will give you an Expected Family Contribution, the amount of money the government calculates your family can provide for college. Use the net price calculator for each school you’re interested in to see how much you’ll likely pay per year based on your family’s income. These two numbers should give you a picture of the schools that will require massive yearly student loan borrowing, and those that are more affordable. It isn’t easy to let go of your vision of college if your dream school is too expensive. Yes, you can always appeal for more financial aid, and living at home or applying for outside scholarships can help offset costs. But your likely student loan burden should be one of the top factors you consider when figuring out where to apply and where to go.
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